WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  It asks three questions:

1.      What are you currently reading?

2.      What did you recently finish reading?

3.      What do you think you’ll read next?

I didn’t get very much of this one read last week, so I’m continuing to read it this week.

I’ve finished reading Esme’s Wish which is a Young Adult fantasy novel. I really enjoyed this story which revolves around a young girl’s refusal to believe that her mother is dead, and her subsequent portal journey to a different world. Review to follow shortly.

I’m hoping to read Where the World turns Wild next. I was approved to read this one via NetGalley, and have heard so many wonderful things about it that I’m very eager to get started!

Blog Tour: Starchild Book 2: The City of Souls by Vacen Taylor

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and for providing me with a copy for review. My review is my own honest opinion of the book.

My Review:

I read the first book in this series, The Age of Akra, just before this one which allowed me to delve straight into the events in this action-packed, character-driven story.  I would recommend reading the first book to allow understanding of the world within which the story is set.

There is a really helpful section at the end of the book which gives information on the Powers of the Seven Nations:   who these different peoples are and their abilities.  

Akra, the Starchild, holds the powers of all nations within him and is prophesied to unite the nations, but first he must harness all their powers.

Mai and her brother Long, along with their friends Sahib and Akra (the Starchild), have just overcome some terrifying opponents, and are intent on helping Mai continue her pilgrimage to The Valley of a Thousand Thoughts so that she can perfect her thoughtbanker skills.  Thoughtbankers are able to read people’s thoughts, remove and add memories and create illusions.

The children, however, do not make it to their destination as they are attacked by sand slavers and deadly Melkarie creatures.  Help arrives just in time, and they are taken to The City of Souls, home to the Soulbankers who are the regulators of life and death.  The children are in extremely difficult circumstances as they arrive:  Sahib has been left with no memories and Long is concealing a terrifying secret …

Although the Soulbankers do not welcome foreign visitors, the Queen allows the children to stay at the request of her daughter, Marlie.  It is not long before trouble finds them as one of their group is unable to resist the temptation put in his path and the power he is promised, and is led towards a path of lies and treachery.

Akra’s destiny draws him towards the call of the lost Silvershade, an ancient and wise soul, hidden within the City, which can show the past and the future.  He needs to reclaim this soul to continue to fulfil the prophecy.  However, dark forces are intent on claiming it first …

Will Akra be able to fulfil another part of the ancient prophecy, or will a treacherous act succeed, setting the path to the destruction of the seven nations in motion?

Brimming with action, revelations, rich world-building and brilliantly realised characters, this is definitely a series which I want to continue reading, so much so that I have now bought a paperback copy of the third book, The Healing Stone, as I really want to follow this incredible journey.

This is a perfect series for children of 8+.

Author Bio – Vacen Taylor is a children’s author with a portfolio of screenwriting and stage play achievements.  A selection of her poetry has been published in Art and Literature Journals. One of her plays was selected to be part of the Playwrights Program 2017 and then directed and performed as a performance reading at HOTA (previously the Gold Coast Arts Centre).

Her feature film script received a special commendation for Best Unproduced Screenplay titled Grandfathers at the British Independent Film Festival in 2018.  The logline can be found under Special Commendations for Unproduced Screenplays here.

Her TV pilot for a series (teleplay) was selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Just4Shorts Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles, CA. This pilot was listed in the top 50 for the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition in 2018.

She presented the first mental health panel at OZ Comic-Con in 2017. This panel was a fantastic opportunity to discuss openly and honestly about artists and their mental health to help support wellbeing, foster connectivity and provide a culture of support.

In 2018 she presented the panel, ‘An artist’s guide to creative happiness: How to strengthen your creative performance’ at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane. Her panels are extraordinary opportunities to explore ideas with people who are currently working in the industry. She aims to discuss subjects like individualism, the community, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, creativity, co-creating and self-awareness which often leads to interesting questions from the audience.

What else does she do? Vacen is also a creative workshop facilitator and proficient in, teaching, speaking and concept creation. Guest Speaker. Workshop Presenter. Creative Panel Facilitator. Mentor. Support Worker. Counsellor. Social Welfare Advocate.

Social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vacen-Taylor-Author-233611656699562/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vacentaylor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/vacentaylor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VacenTaylor

Check out these other Blogs for the Tour:

WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  It asks three questions:

1.      What are you currently reading?

2.      What did you recently finish reading?

3.      What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not currently reading anything, but I am just about to start reading Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster which I was sent by her publicist.

This week I finished reading Starchild Book 2: The City of Souls and Wild Sky, both for Blog Tours next week. I really enjoyed both of these books. I have already bought the third one in the Starchild Series and am definitely looking forward to Lexi’s next adventure with the Relic Hunters. I couldn’t resist reading The Snow Dragon. I love Abi’s stories and this one was just beautiful with the most gorgeous illustrations. I know the children in my class are desperate for me to add this to our class library. I’ve also read Koshka’s Tales which were just as magical as I expected them to be. They are woven together beautifully and again, the illustrations are stunning. I will definitely be sharing them with my class.

I requested this one from NetGalley months ago, but just haven’t been able to get round to reading it, so I’m going to try to read it this week. This is Kiran’s first adult book. I’ve adored her middle-grade and young adult books, so I’m definitely expecting to enjoy The Mercies.

November Wrap-Up

Wow! I can’t believe that another month has passed so quickly, and we’re into the final month of 2019! It’s been a very busy reading month for me which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Work has been hectic, with assessments and parents’ evenings, not to mention beginning preparation for our Christmas Production but I still managed to get lots of reading done!

Believathon

I took part in a fabulous Readathon, Believe in the Impossible, which led to me reading 12 books, and posting 8 reviews. My wrap-up post is here.

Other books read

I’ve also read Starchild Book One: The Age of Akra, and Angel on the Roof by Shirley Hughes. This brings my total of books read this month to 14.

Birthday!

It was my birthday this month which meant I got book pressies from my husband! He bought me these gorgeous books which I’m really looking forward to reading during December/January.

Other books bought!

I didn’t realise how many books I’d bought this month until I went to check. No wonder I have so many on my TBR! I bought 14 books this month which is quite a lot – even for me! I loved The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club so much (read for Believathon) that I just had to but the next two.

Sophie Anderson, one of my favourite authors, recommended Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platanov and Koshka’s Tales: Stories from Russia as reading her books has made me want to read more Russian folklore.

I went to a poetry workshop with the wonderful Joseph Coelho which was brilliant fun! Of course, I just had to get a few signed copies for my class library.

I went to London a week ago and I always buy books when I go into Foyles. This time I bought Way of the Waves as I loved the first book in the series, Riddle of the Runes. I also bought The Titanic Detective Agency as I loved Lindsay’s first book, Guardians of the Wild Unicorns (which was also the first book I was approved to read on NetGalley). I love nothing better than browsing in a bookshop, so was really pleased to find Snow and Rose which looked intriguing.

I also bought Pearl in the Ice as I’ve read some fantastic reviews for it. I bought Starchild: The Healing Stone as I’d read the first two for a Blog Tour and really loved the series, so want to continue reading it. I imported West as I’m going to be reading North Child and wanted to be able to pick up the next one in the series. I’ve been meaning to pick up a book by Katherine Arden for a while now and, when a parent recommended The Bear and the Nightingale, I decided to get it.

Blog Tours

I was invited on my first ever Blog Tour for Awa and the Dreamrealm. I’m also taking part in another two Blog Tours in December and another one in February. I never thought when I started my Blog that I’d get the chance to take part in Blog Tours, so I’m very excited and grateful to be given the opportunity.

NetGalley

I’ve now earned my ‘Top Reviewer’ badge on NetGalley and am close to my ’25 reviews’ badge. I have 4 books on my NetGalley shelf which I hope to read in December.

Wow! It’s been a busy book month as always – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! How has your reading month been? Have you read any of these?

#SixforSunday

Wow! I can’t believe it’s December – time to get all Christmassey – yeah! The December theme for Six for Sunday, hosted by A Little But a Lot, is It’s the most wonderful time of the year and today’s wish is for for Books set over Christmas. I’ve decided to go for picture books as I love reading these in the run up to Christmas.

This is one of my favourite books, and also one of the first films I watch in December.

I first came across this one when we used it as a unit of work with our Year 6 children. It is a really beautiful and moving story, full of Christmas spirit.

This is one of my most loved Christmas stories. This one is my favourite edition, illustrated by Christian Birmingham.

I recently read this one and really enjoyed its messages of appreciation of the natural world and to cherish what we have rather than wishing our lives away with things that may not fulfil us as much as we thought they would.

This is the only one of my six that I haven’t read yet. I’m saving it for closer to Christmas, can can’t wait to cosy up with it.

This is my favourite Christmas story, despite the tears! I remember reading it as a child, and crying my eyes out. It never fails to make me cry no matter how many time I read it.

Do you have a favourite picture book set at Christmas?

#Believathon Wrap-up

This is the link to my original post for the Believe in the Impossible Readathon (Believathon). I can’t believe I actually finished this one – and slightly ahead of time. The only other Readathon I’ve taken part in was the #20BooksofSummer which I didn’t manage to complete although I did manage 14 books. I enjoyed every second of this one as it was a celebration of middle-grade books which I adore reading. I decided to read books in series for each of the challenges. Altogether, I read 12 books and have managed to post reviews for eight of them.

I intend to write reviews for the other four books as I really enjoyed them all, and will post them as soon as I can. I do have quite a lot of reading commitments at the moment including for some Blog Tours coming early in December, and I really need to catch up with my NetGalley approvals as I have some fantastic books waiting to read.

The books I have posted reviews for are:

  1. The Group book: Frostheart.
  2. A book featuring a myth or legend: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  3. A book with a strong sense of friendship:  The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club by Alex Bell
  4. An atmospheric or creepy book: Potkin & Stubbs by Sophie Green
  5. A classic children’s story: The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston
  6. Re-read childhood favourite: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
  7. A book with real life issues: Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  8. A book set in the past: The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras.

The other prompts I completed, in the order I completed them are:

  1. A book with an animal character: The Gift of Dark Hollow by Kieran Larwood. I also read The Beasts of Grimheart as I just had to continue Podkin’s story
  2. A seasonal book: The Velvet Fox by Catherine Fisher
  3. A book featuring magic: A Witch Alone by James Nichol

Altogether, I read 3308 pages, an achievement I’m rather proud of! I really hope this is an annual Readathon as it is such a lovely way to celebrate middle-grade books and, whilst I’m already a fan, it has been lovely to see others who may not have read middle-grade in a while taking part in this challenge and really enjoying reading them. It has also made me want to take part in more Readathons as it brings a wonderful sense of belonging to this wonderful reading community.

Have you taken part in Believathon? How did you do? Do you have any other Readathon suggestions I can take part in?

#Believathon: a story set in the past

Published by Kathy Dawson Books
Published on 5th March 2019

This is the companion novel to The Mad Wolf’s Daughter which I really enjoyed reading earlier this year, the events of which take place shortly following the dramatic events of the first book. This story is set in the lowlands of medieval Scotland, with its wonderfully evocative wild landscape of forests and coast, and features one of the strongest, most heroic protagonists I’ve ever come across in middle-grade. She really does deserve her status as a legend!

Drest has been reunited with her father and brothers, a local warlord (known as the Mad Wolf of the North) and his war band of sons, but trouble has a way of finding her and it does this time as the most dire sentence has been placed upon her – a wolf’s head – normally reserved for the worst of criminals, but placed on a young girl who is feared by the local Lord of Faintree Castle who is intent not only on seeking her death, but also that of her family and his nephew, Emerick, the rightful ruler of Faintree. Luckily for Emerick, he has the protection and loyal friendship of Drest!

As there is a bounty on her head, Drest is in constant danger; however, this does not stop her single-minded determination to protect her friends, Lord Emerick and Tig, and to restore Emerick to his rightful place as Lord of Faintree Castle. So begins an incredibly action-packed and exciting mission as the hunted becomes the hunter, as Drest uses her quick wit and agility to escape her enemies … but will one young girl be able to defeat a cruel Lord, intent on using all the considerable resources in his power to defeat her? Goodness, this story fair fizzes with action, tension and edge-of-your-seat moments that truly made it unputdownable!

Drest really is the MOST incredible young girl. She is fiercely independent, determined to follow her own chosen path, incredibly courageous and a wonderfully loyal friend. She has been brought up by a fierce warlord father who, whilst he loves her, expects her obedience, but Drest has a mind of her own, and makes her own decisions. She chooses her own path and follows it with a single-minded determination that is truly admirable. It is no wonder that her friends are devoted to her and that her brothers dote on her. She might be referred to as a wee lass, but she has a warrior’s heart, and uses it to forge her own destiny.

The author, Diane Magras, grew up in Maine, but has a love of all things medieval and Scottish! I loved the Author’s Note which gave an historical context for the story which I found fascinating.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Alva strained to make out anything in the pitch-black hut. The moon shone like a beacon outside. But here in the turf-covered hut only silvery streaks shimmered on the outlines of numerous eerie charms hanging from the low ceiling. A figure cackled and creaked in the far corner, but Alva wasn’t scared. She had come here with a purpose.

Any ideas?

I read the first book, Riddle of the Runes earlier this year and loved it. It’s taken me a while to find this one, but I was in Foyles in London last Saturday and managed to spot it!

Blurb from Book:

Alva clings to her sleeping wolf as the Viking longship pitches and rolls over the North Sea’s crashing waves. Soon she will reveal herself as a secret stowaway, but only when there’s no chance of turning back. This is her opportunity to put her shield maiden spirit to the test – exploring strange new lands, solving mysteries, and most importantly finding her father …

Blog Tour: Awa and the Dreamrealm – Isa Pearl Ritchie

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and for providing me with a copy for review. My review is my own honest opinion of the book.

Published by Te Ra Aroha Press

What if dreams are more real than waking life? Life is already complicated enough for Awa Bryant when she starts having weird dreams – waking dreams – and strange coincidences start appearing in her real life. She meets dreamcharmer, Veila, a quirky glowing creature who helps to guide Awa through the mysterious Dreamrealm. At first the Dreamrealm is a glorious escape from Awa’s daily struggles but something is not right… Soon Awa discovers she has a bigger quest, and everything she cares about is at stake. Will she be brave enough to face her fears and save her friends?

My Review:

The map at the start of Awa and the Dreamrealm gave me an insight into this beautiful story of self-awareness and hope before I even turned the first page as it has been created as a landscape within a brain!   I found this story a fascinating exploration into the power of dreams to heal the psyche in the real world, told in a refreshing and sympathetic manner through the eyes of a young teenager, Awa.

Awa is dealing with some big changes in her life from the divorce of her parents to the move to a much smaller apartment in the city of Wellington to separation from her old school friends.  She has struggled with anxiety in the past … will this follow her into her new life?

Following a disastrous start at her new school, where she is targeted by a racist bully, Awa begins to have lucid dreams.  Awa’s dreams have the ability to morph into nightmares which terrify her … and encroach into her real world. 

When she dreams, she enters the Dreamrealm where she meets a small, glowing creature, Veila who is a Dreamcharmer, and her guide.   This realm is a wondrous place, both terrifying and gorgeous.  Once fully immersed in it, Awa feels calm, peaceful and content, letting go of her worries.  Is this realm better than her reality?

Awa is soon desperate to spend more time in the Dreamrealm where Veila wants to train her to help with dreamwork.  She introduces her to Honu, a giant turtle, who is the Guardian of the Lake of Reflection.  Honu tells Awa that she is a Dreamweaver, a revelation that leads her on a dangerous quest to help herself, and protect her friends in the Dreamrealm from some terrifying people.

This story deals sensitively with some big issues such as bullying, racism and anxiety.  It also explores the awkwardness of fledgling relationships and the uncertainty that can arise from them as Awa develops friendships with two teenagers in her class, Ella and Evan.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderfully captivating story, set in a beautifully realised landscape.  A story about becoming self-aware and having the courage to take control of your worries. 

Isa Pearl Ritchie

About the Author

Isa Pearl Ritchie is a New Zealand writer. As a child, she loved creating imaginary worlds. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. Her second novel, Fishing for Māui, was selected as one of the top books of 2018 in the New Zealand Listener and was a finalist in the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. Awa and the Dreamrealm is her first book for young people.

www.isaritchie.com

www.facebook.com/isaritchie/

https://twitter.com/isapearlritchie

https://www.instagram.com/isapearlritchie/

Check out the rest of the Tour with these bloggers!

WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  It asks three questions:

1.      What are you currently reading?

2.      What did you recently finish reading?

3.      What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading Starchild Book Two: The City of Souls for an upcoming Blog Tour. I read the first one earlier in the week, and really enjoyed it, so much so that I have now bought the third book in the series.

I’ve finished reading my last two books for #Believathon this week: A Witch Alone which I absolutely adored (and now need to read the final book in the trilogy) and The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter which has another brilliant heroine. I also read the first book in the Starchild series: The Age of Akra which I have really enjoyed.

I’m going to start Wild Sky at the weekend as I was sent a copy by the author, Lexi Rees, for an upcoming Blog Tour. I read the first in the series, Eternal Seas to my class last summer and we all loved it, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Not sure if I’ll get any other books read this week as I need to catch up on reviews over the weekend.